[Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

Ceri Young rcr_young at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Jan 30 17:03:27 GMT 2011

Thank you Michael (& Eddie),

Michael, if I wasn't already persuaded by the linguistic arguments made by the 
KS group, I wouldn't be following this thread at all. I'm sorry if my original 
arguments were a little conflated, I had in mind while writing them, some of the 
points just forwarded by clearly and cogently by Andrew Trim - that if they are 
to be advocated as compulsory, might they be streamlined? And if they are to be 
asked for as part of the SWF as an optional addition then it really doesn't 

My confusion had arrisen from the debate as to whether they were to be viewed as 
compulsory or not, and in this regard I imagined you were advocating they should 
be compulsory in the final SWF, when it was clear to me that advocates of KK & 
the existing SWF paradigm may take a hostile view to this. (Which is why I 
raised points re the prospective negotiation for such a stance in 2013.)

I agree some of my complaints about excessive diacritical marks, based on my use 
of Welsh, are due to the extent of its character set, and indeed mainly on the ŷ 
& ŵ characters which I happen to love as part of standard written Welsh. My 
point does stand however, in regards to the extent of the use of diacrits, 
because despite having a wider character set (although not generally as wide as 
your list purports (it's mainly only the 12 characters; á, â, ê, i, ì, î, ï, ò, 
ô, û, ŵ & ŷ compared with your proposed 11 Cornish characters â, à, ê, è, ë, î, 
ô, ò, û, ù, ÿ)) - the main issue is that Welsh in no way applies these diacrits 
in a complete & sweeping way right throughout the language - they're mostly 
restricted to positions which plainly avert confusion between two, 
slightly differently pronounced words.

It is that I agree with the practical application of diacrits that I'm 
contributing to this thread here - in the hope that that your case is not 
undermined by an impractically excessive stance on their application.

In Welsh, for example, it is my understanding that grammarians & 
lexicographers of the 19th Century applied them more sweepingly in their 
dictionaries, grammars and other printed works than we find them today, but it 
was only really those applications of diacritics which distinguished one 
word from aother, spelt similarly but pronounced differently, which were to live 
on in general usage. Again, I'm left wondering if a two-tier system of diacrit 
application might not be a little more practical - to apply them comprehensively 
in dictionaries, but to permit a restricted system of their usage in the 
everyday language to distinct words which without diacrits might end up rendered 
identically on paper?

Yours Respectfully,
Ceri Young

From: Michael Everson <everson at evertype.com>
To: Standard Cornish discussion list <spellyans at kernowek.net>
Sent: Sun, 30 January, 2011 15:36:03
Subject: Re: [Spellyans] dictionnaire de l'Académie française

On 30 Jan 2011, at 14:43, Ceri Young wrote:

> As a casual and unqualified observer, I think Eddie Climo's take on this seems 
>the most reasonable presented so far.

I would ask you to review the linguistic discussion, casual and unqualified or 

> Given the importance of KS getting as much sway as it can in the 2013 SWF 
>review, I find it a little alarming that such dogmatic assertions are being made 
>regarding the use of diacritics when this is likely to be such a 'hot potato' 
>when the brokering ensues in 2013.

What is dogmatic about this?

Six Cornish letters can take diacritical marks to make pronunciation clear. 

â, à, ê, è, ë, î, ô, ò, û, ù, ÿ

These diacritical marks are important and should be learned as a proper part of 
the words which have them. If you write them regularly, they will help you to 
pronounce words more correctly, and they will help others to read what you write 
more easily. 


> The only rational I can imagine certain KS advocates having for appointing 
>themselves as the Cornish diacritic police

Rubbish, Ceri. "Diacritic police"? I never said any such thing. What I have said 
is that there are linguistic ambiguities in the SWF which can be resolved by the 
use of diacritical marks. 

> in the run up to the review might be to appear to be making greater concessions 
>to the rival side as possible when the bargaining ensues. - At which point I can 
>only hope taking a hard line in advance might permit Mr. Climo's general (and 
>most reasonable) stance to be the one arrived at overall for the final SWF when 
>the dust settles in 2013.

Eddie's stance is that unlike French, which has an orthography in which words 
have their proper diacritical marks, Cornish should be a language which has an 
orthography in which words may be spelled with or without diacritical marks on 
the whim of the user. 

> Only in that context - of preëmpting the bargaining process ahead in 2013, can 
>I see the logic in taking such a hard line in advance, whereas entering 
>negotiations with a weak line could mean diacritics get bargained away entirely 
>in 2013. For this to work however, might the KS team envisage two working 
>systems for the use of diacritics; an 'ideal/extensive' system (to take into the 
>negotiations) and a 'bottom-line/minimized' system which might be anticipated as 
>that bargained back to in the approaching 2013 review (i.e. the working 
>compromise hoped for as the final outcome of the negotiations)?

We already made that concession. The agreement made with Trond and Albert and 
Ben was abrogated. We agreed that the SWF should have a note:

“Diacritical marks are not a part of the mandated SWF orthography. However, 
publishers are permitted to be use them, optionally, to mark words with 
anomalous vowel length or quality.”

That would have permitted us to use them without being criticized for it. The 
agreement was broken with never an explanation. We negotiated and agreed in good 
faith, and that good faith was not rewarded. So, fine, we derogated from the 

> If those advocating this extensive and plainly cumbersome system of diacritics 
>aim to be as dogmatic & inflexible in the 2013 negotiations as they are here - 
>very sadly, I don't hold up much hope for the KS team being taken terribly 
>seriously at the SWF review.

Our specification says this:

Six Cornish letters can take diacritical marks to make pronunciation clear. 

â, à, ê, è, ë, î, ô, ò, û, ù, ÿ

These diacritical marks are important and should be learned as a proper part of 
the words which have them. If you write them regularly, they will help you to 
pronounce words more correctly, and they will help others to read what you write 
more easily. 


What is unclear about this? This is the recommendation. We don't recommend that 
people write KS without diacritical marks. The recommendation is to use them as 
a matter of good practice. Why should we, in the same breath, recommend what is 
linguistically bad practice?

> I say this because I wonder if from this hard line, Cornish is being considered 
>as a language for prospective every-day use at all, given the constraints 
>diacritics place on such things as choice of fonts in graphic design, or even on 
>the speed of informal cursive handwriting (I say this as a Welshman who has 
>already experienced difficulties in using Welsh in graphic design with the far 
>fewer diacritical marks Welsh has than those proposed for KS2).

I cannot agree with you, from a character set point of view.

Welsh uses â á è ä ê é è ë î í ì ï ô ó ò ö û ú ù ü ŵ ẃ ẁ ẅ ŷ ý ỳ ÿ (specified in 
Orgraff yr Iaith Cymraeg)

KS uses â à ê è ë î ô ò û ù ÿ only.

The problems one will have with Welsh will almost alway be only with ŵ ẃ ẁ ẅ ŷ ý 
ỳ depending on computer platform. 

> May I just end my point on a question, does the KS orthography, as it has been 
>designed rely extensively upon the use of diacrits in this way?

KS as designed relies on the use of diacritical marks to indicate anomalous 
vowel quantity and anomalous vowel quality. If one has learnt the rules, one is 
able to pronounce all the words in any text accurately, according to the way in 
which Revived Cornish is presently spoken by people who prefer RMC, RTC, and RLC 

> (Would the orthography still work/be an acceptable one if the use of diacrits 
>were reduced to any extent or dropped entirely?)

If the diacritical marks are dropped, then ambiguity is introduced. Since we 
know from the experience of the entire revival that the specific ambiguities 
involve lead to mispronunciation (of either vowel quantity or vowel quality or 
both), it does not seem to me to be wise to favour an ambiguous orthography over 
an unambiguous one. 

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/
Spellyans mailing list
Spellyans at kernowek.net

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